The flax that binds us: Modellers’ Pond park gifted name Te Pā Harakeke

04/03/2022 12:52pm

Te Kaunihera o Whakatū (Nelson City Council) kaumātua have gifted a name to the park being built on the previous site of the Modellers’ Pond.

Elected members at the Community and Recreation Committee meeting on 3 March, 2022 unanimously voted to accept the gift of the name Te Pā Harakeke, which is a Māori whakatauki, or proverbial saying, about the importance of whānau (family). This is symbolic of the area’s importance to families and the underlying purpose of the new family-friendly park.

The next step for Te Pā Harakeke will be a decision to formally adopt the name at the Hearings Panel on 23 March.

Harakeke is te reo Māori for flax. ‘Te rito o te harakeke’ is the centre shoot or growing point of the plant, likened to a child. The awhi rito, or parents, are the two shoots immediately on either side the rito. The outer shoots are the tīpuna or grandparents.
Kaumātua Luke Katu says:

“Te Pā Harakeke represents a multi-generational whānau network, with the younger, newer harakeke growing from the centre, surrounded and protected by older, more experienced generations.”
Community and Recreation Committee Chair Tim Skinner says the name is a wonderful reflection of the park’s history and future.

“This area has been a place for families for decades and it holds a special place in Nelson’s heart because of that. The area has an exciting new future now with a park that symbolises the blended relationship Nelson has with its moana (sea) and its whenua (land). I hope many more families will be able to enjoy time together here in the years to come.

“I’d like to thank our kaumātua (Whaea Melanie and Matua Luke) for gifting such a thoughtful name. I’d also like to acknowledge the Modellers’ Society, in particular Chairman Nigel Gibbs, for the dedication and care they have shown to this part of our City and are now working to extend the model railway track. I know this is a hard change for them, but we very much appreciate being able to work together on this project.”

The cultural heritage of the site, a unique estuarine environment that is home to many native species, goes back more than 600 years. Tāhunanui was not a pre-colonial settlement name but was approved in 1911. Until the twentieth century the area was known as ‘The Sands’ or Tāhuna and its customary Māori name remains unknown. Māori had a kāinga (village) at Tāhuna from the earliest days of human settlement in Aotearoa, which has been dated to c.1361 AD.

The new name is supported by attendees at the Iwi-Council Partnership Group (Ngāti Kuia, Ngāti Koata, Ngāti Rārua, Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Toa Rangatira) hui on 1 December 2021, with no disagreement received from iwi not in attendance.

Kaumātua were then invited to name and bless the site. Within Te Ao Māori, a name may be offered to a site, building or taonga during a ceremonial blessing, and those leading the proceedings are entrusted to consider an appropriate name to be bestowed.

Council currently has three naming policies and guidelines:

  • Road Naming Guidelines 2008
  • Naming of Reserves and Other Features Policy 2004
  • Naming Rights and Sponsorship Policy for Community Services Facilities 2009

Council is working on a new naming policy that better reflects Nelson’s heritage, culture and identity, ensuring that aspects of Te Ao Māori are always taken into consideration when new reserves, parks, buildings, services and roads are named.

Councillor Skinner says he can't think of a facility that has brought more joy to a community over many years.

“The Modellers’ Pond and Society have brought happiness to Nelson families as far back as I can remember. It’s been an emotional journey to get where we are today, accepting this insightful name for our new park.”